Chapter Four - Freak show
On Friday, the day went by agonisingly slow. My mind replaying all the things that Adonis saw from me, me breaking down and him actually comforting me. It felt so foreign. So foreign that I was confused for so long after. Even when I was walking home all I could think about what the people I’ve met the past couple days.. my dads’ date, Adonis... I just don’t understand.
These people don’t know me... they don’t understand.
To the kids at school... I’m a freak. A total freak show. Just a thing for them to point at and stare. To call names, to shove into the lockers.
But I stand in front of my mirror on a Friday night and look at my reflection showing me her arm.. her many scars...
Are your jokes still funny now? The shoves.. the names... all the rumours that get passed around, about how I'm ’the freak.’
Are they still funny as you look at my figure, my right hand, holding a silver blade, just slightly over my left vein?
I look before me and I see my dishevelled hair, my pale skin and I laugh. I actually laugh. They’ve killed me. They’ve killed me in every way but physical.
My veins look up at me from my wrists and scream ‘GET IT OVER WITH’.
Even my veins want me to die. I laugh bitterly at the thought.
Their words eat me from the inside, out. My thoughts chew me up just to spit me back out so I can stare at myself and look at the problem head-on. Me. I’m the problem. I mean, look at me.
The pale skin... the bruises... the scars...
The small, clear droplet falls from my eye and down my cheek just to drop into the sink... soon to be followed with crimson liquid.
All I can wish for is for this to be over. To be with my mother and be away from my father. No one cares about me. My fathers’ date doesn’t know me. She doesn’t understand me. She just cares cause she wants to sleep with my father... and Adonis? He’s just doing it to climb to the top of the social ladder...
Hey, maybe I can do that and jum- no.
My spine burns with what the future will hold... the knife that Adonis will hold when he stabs me in the back...
“Riley, honey? Come down here please and greet this gorgeous woman.” My father shouts up.
I instantly drop the blade as I realise that my thoughts were causing my palms to sweat and make the blade to drop slightly to the thenar, when I look, I see I’ve put pressure on it to make a small, deep cut. The little trickle of blood that falls from my thenar into my palm looks beautiful.
The colour reminds me of roses.
My skin, as delicate as the petals and my blade as sharp as the thorns.
I wonder when my petals will finally fall and all that is left is a pathetic dark green stalk that has thorns on, which pushes away any friend or foe.
It didn’t matter as long as it kept the petals safe.
I look at my thenar and frown. I take a closer look at my thenar and see a white part. I cut deep.
Not again. I thought.
I grab some toilet paper and press it against my cut. The dark red taking over from the innocent white colour and making it a deep red. The difference in shades makes me smile. There’s no in-between.
It’s one or the other.
Even that deep dark red will turn into a deep, dark brown colour when it dries. The smell of blood stinging your senses as you breathe.
Even blood changes.
Even rose petals fall.
I’ve changed and I will fall.
But I wonder when my petals will fall and when my blood will change. Hopefully soon.
A faint smile makes its way to my face as I wrap my hand. I pull my long sleeve shirt down and take a deep breath to mentally prepare myself to fake a greeting.
I jog down the stairs and greet the average-sized woman. I wave at her and smile. My eyes do a once over and see her small round body looking better than mine. Her hips go out more but her thighs have a gap between. Her shirt is tight towards her breasts and her torso, flat.
“Oh hello, sweetie.” She says once I’m down. She comes over and wraps her arms around my shoulders. I wrap mine around her waist and lean my head on her shoulders and sigh.
This is nice.
She lets go when my dad clears his throat. Of course, he always has to ruin the good things, why am I not surprised?
“Joanne and I are going out to eat. I have left some money on the desk in the living room for you, love. Keep the change.” He says through gritted, yellow teeth with a smile on his withering face.
I smile back and nod my head, nodding along with the lie I have to tell every time there’s another person around me and my father.
There was little conversation after that, however, once they left I dived into the living room to search for the money. My dark green eyes search the dark lighting of the dirty living room and once they zero in on the white piece of paper.
I rave over and sigh out loud. Why I expected something different, I don’t know. ‘You actually thought I gave you money? HA! Did I fuck!’ Find your own food, bitch.’ As my eyes read the note, the more my body deflated with disappointment.
My feet carry me to the rusting, silver coat pegs and I grab my faded camo bomber jacket and I sling it over my shoulders, pulling the hood up. My hands subconsciously lock the house up and my feet continue to carry me on a random path outside.
My dark eyes watch as my feet step on the cracks between the paving as I pace a primary school and a faint, sad wince comes from me as an old memory resurfaces.
”Chris! Stop!” a delicately soft voice comes out of the twenty-eight-year-old; her laughter radiating happiness as my father squeezed her a little tighter. My father showing my mother his ’undying love.’
A soft scoff comes from my mouth. So much for his undying love, eh?
“Babe, I’m not doing anything!” His deep laughter comes out in waves as his bright blue eyes shine in the light as he looks at his one and only love.
My little six-year-old feet carry me along the pavement after watching my parents for a second. My young, innocent eyes see a shining object on the road and I grin.
My Small body takes me on a detour, towards the road. ”Christ!” I hear my mothers panicked voice and when I turn around in the middle of the road to see why my mother is so panicked.
Mam? I frown and then shriek when some big warm arms wrap around me at the same time as some cars blare their horns at me.
My father sets me on the pavement and crouches down to hug me, his left hand holding my head and his right arm wraps around my waist.
“Riley! You silly little girl! What have I told you about the road, huh?” Tears reach the surface of my eyes as my mother crouches down to my height in front of me, behind my father. My father released me and at the same time I pout and look at the ground, my small hands clasping in front of me, I take a quick look up at my mother and see her glaring sharp, steel daggers at me; when I see that, my face instantly looks away as a tear falls down my left cheek.
When the tear falls off my chin, my body has a mind of its own when my small arms wrap around my fathers neck and my head plants itself into his neck, drenching him in my tears.
His large hand holds the back of my head once again and strokes my beach blonde hair. I hear whispers as I get picked up off the floor, my legs instinctively wrapping around my father. “You didn’t have to be so harsh on her ‘Liv.” My father says, shocked.
I feel my father kiss my right ear and rub my back. “It’s okay, sweetheart.”
I hear a sigh and then feel a warm hand on my shouldned trying to pull me to face them. My small arms cling to my fathers body as they continuously wet his figure. “Riley... baby, I’m sorry...”
I tuck my chin into my jacket and sigh, watching my breath come out in a white mist, slowly dissipating into the dark, cold, winters day. My old, worn Vans high tops making no effort to keep my average size six feet warm.
I miss my mam. Why did she have to go? Why did I have to- fuck.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. Turns out that the shining object in the road that captured my attention was a small crystal. My mother got the small object after she felt so guilty.
I smile when I remember that day.
We were the perfect family.
My eyes red and puffy, my face wet and my body shaking. My father holds me until I finally stop crying, my head buried into his neck.
I wouldn’t look at my mother not even for a second. I was too scared that she was going to shout at me again. I was six, what was I supposed to think?
With my fathers’ arms around me, his hand stroking my hair, I’d finally stopped crying and when I finally gathered enough courage to look at my mother...
She wasn’t there.
“Mam?! Dad, where’s mam?” My small, soft voice asks.
His response was simple, he chuckles and points at the road. I look with my red eyes to the clear road to see her crouched at the road. My eyebrows furrow as I try to figure out what she’s doing.
When she starts to walk towards us again I try to look at her hand that are hidden behind her.
“Lee, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that to you.” I look at her and nod my head, more curious at what she’s hiding than her apology when I’d already forgiven her. When she notices me struggling she laughs and hands me the small crystal. My mother kisses my forehead and for the rest of the walk she kept saying that she was sorry.
Like she wouldn’t be able to forgive herself before I did. Like her mind wouldn’t let her. Like I would hate my own mother.
My feet continue to carry past the school where she called me a silly girl and I chuckle bitterly for the second time tonight but this time at my innocence.
Even at six, I was stupid. I still am. So much for growing up huh?
I can’t even say that. I’m lying to myself. We both know that.
I’m weaker now than I was when I was six. I can’t even fucking speak! My six-year-old self could and she was six!
I walk for a little bit more, thinking about more memories and more times where my mother was mean and my father was there to comfort me. Or when my father lost his temper and my mother was there to comfort me, those nights I’d sleep in their bed because my mother didn’t want to sleep alone. After all, my father would sleep on the sofa because my mother told him to. She was angry at him for losing his temper with me.
He’d always sneak back in though and she’d always let him back, always accept his apologies and always accept that he was genuinely sorry.
I wonder if he is now.
I’m lost in thought when some birds make an overdramatic squawk towards me, causing me to jump and stare at the small flock of birds as they fly away. My mouth opens to let out a surprised squeak when I bump into a warm body. The bodies arms coming out to steady me by my weak arms.
Their hands are warm, I feel the heat through my thin jacket and it makes a shiver go down my bruised spine. When I look down at the hands that are holding onto me, they’re large.
A mans hand possibly? The thought makes me gasp and jump backwards.
“Oh my god, I am so sorry.” I write on my pad and show the warm body. When my head looks up from my paper as I turn it towards them I’m faced with a smiling boy.
You’ve got to be kidding.
“Hey, Riley.” He says with a cheesy grin on those pink lips of his as he chews his minty chewing gum. I wave at him but don’t make any effort to do anything else, suddenly feeling self-conscious.
I try to zip my jacket up higher but fail as it’s already all the way to the top. My body shivers in the cold, wanting to go back to the hell that I call home.
“Yes, lad! Who’s this sweet one?” Says a deep foreign voice. “You gonna introduce me or what?” The lad says with a cheesy grin.
“Hey, babe.” He winks at me and licks his pink lips as he eyes my thighs.
Who is this boy? Blonde hair, blue eyes, the clothes he’s wearing is screaming comfort and not style. He’s giving me the impression that he’s one of Adonis’ friends. A new or old? Who knows.
My legs squeeze together in nervousness and the blonde guy bites his lower lip hungrily, seeing my muscles tighten in my black jeans. I look back to Adonis and see him with his hands clasped together in front of him. His eyes avoiding something.
When the mystery blonde clears his throat, Adonis’ neck snaps towards him and then to me. “Oh! This is Riley. She’s mute but she’s amazing.” I choke on my own spit and start to cough as my throat begins to freak out.
“Woah, Woah, Woah!” The mysterious blonde guy says as he looks at me cough and cough. A warm hand finds its way to my back and slowly rubs up and down to try and calm me down, however, when I realise it’s Adonis’ hand, my coughing gets worse, I double over and take a deep breath, my lungs expanding with each inhale.
Once my breathing regains control, the mystery guy speaks up. ”Damn, that’s the only time I’ve seen a girl choke and it’s not on my dick.”
I look up at him, red in the face from coughing and burst out laughing. The fact this guy, who I don’t even know just said that, makes it ten times funnier, my hands come up to my face to wipe the tears from my face from coughing and laughing while I still feel a warm hand in my back.
“So...” mystery guy speaks. “I’m Eli, nice to meet you.” He sticks his hand out and I meet his half way to shake it, I follow up his arm to his face and I take a good look at his appearance.
Eli has soft, slightly spiked dirty blonde, nearly brown hair, his eyes are a pale blue that compliments his pale skin. I look at his clothes better and I see his dark grey sweats with two different shoes that he has. On his right. He has some white Air Forces and on his left, he has a red pair of Adidas hightops. Um... okay.
I move my eyes up towards his upper body and I see his black jacket that’s unzipped to showcase his black Nike crewneck. I catch a glimpse of an earring before I hear someone clearing their throat that gets my attention ripped away from Eli’s appearance.
When my eyes find the source, my eyebrows furrow in confusion to meet Adonis’ angry and annoyed eyes. My eyes slam back to meet Eli’s when he starts to giggle, a smile makes it way into my face when I hear them giggle, his laugh being too contagious to not laugh.
“I have different shoes on cause this big guy over here saw y- OW!” He gets cut off when Adonis’ hand slams on the back of Eli’s head. “What was that for?” He asked.
Adonis rolls his eyes and I’ve never been more confused in my life. I get my pad out and write my message down on it for them to see. “I’m going to head home. I’ll see you guys at school.” Once they read it, they both face me and pout.
“Oh what? Goddammit.” Adonis says. “Wait. Why don’t you hang out with us tonight?”
I move my head from my paper to him and frown. ‘What do you mean?’
Why would they want me to hang out with them? So they can take the piss out of you. It's not like you're going to fight back. She says in the back of my mind. Her voice always sending chills down me. I hate her voice. Calm, confident, calculating.
She knows what she does and says to me. She knows how much she affects me and it’s horrible. I’m so weak that I let this happen to me.
“Why don’t you-“ Adonis gets cut off by Eli when he speaks over him. “We want you to hang out with us today. You seem pretty fun.”
Will dad get home? Will he be home? Should I be home now?
Stop being such a pussy, Riley! Jesus Christ, some guys want to hang out with you and you're worrying about what your father will think? Grow. Some. Balls.
I frown at the voice. She’s right.
She’s always right.
‘So... what are we doing?’ Eli grins at me and wraps his arm around my shoulder, bringing me close to him, making me feel grateful for the warmth that’s radiating from him.
“Oh.. you know. We’re just going to meet a few people.” My eyes widen subconsciously as my feet.
I can’t speak. That’s what most people hate me for already and I’m about to meet more people that are doing to hate me... great.
“You’ll like them. Trust me.” He smiles down at me when I look up at him. For some reason, I feel like I can trust him. That he’s not going to stab me in the back. I look behind us and see Adonis trailing behind us, watching us.
You know they're going to stab you in the back eventually.
She says nonchalantly. She always has something to say. Always. It’s just a matter of time.
Just thinking about what just happened is insane.